The time has come for me to say goodbye to my record collection. It was a painful decision.
I always took great pride in my vinyl. It was bigger and deeper than most assemblages and had long ago become part of my identity, my obsession-indeed, my religion-and losing it is the hardest thing I've done since I gave up masturbating with fruits and vegetables.
My record-geek friends say I'm crazy to do this. “Surely you aren't going to get rid of all your albums,” they ask in disbelief.
“Yes all of them,” I say. “It has to be all of them.”
Perhaps I am crazy.
The only other person I know who abandoned an oversized record collection was certainly daft. His name was Paul R., and he was my best friend during the latter years of high school. Paul was an accomplished musician with an insight into rock music that went beyond your typical teenager. His record collection reflected that. It was bigger and better than mine, even. Then Paul went crazy and set fire to the whole thing.
By “went crazy,” I mean, of course, that he became a born-again Christian who had conversations with God. He claimed the Lord had instructed him to burn his records.
“Rock 'n' roll is the work of Satan,” Paul told me one afternoon. If I knew then what I know now, I would have replied, “So is burning black plastic into the atmosphere, asshole.”
But this was a long time ago and the first time I ever even heard the hypothesis that the rock-music industry is controlled by Satan. It freaked me out, you know? Because you can never underestimate Satan's aggressive entrepreneurial style, and the thought of destroying my records made me sick.
Paul, sensing my conflict, went into full-blown evangelist recruitment mode. (Goodbye, record collection?) He said any band that refers to drugs or alcohol is evil and must be destroyed. (Adios, Arlo, Woody, Wendy, Jerry, Jim and Jimmy?) He said any record with sexual content is, also. (Goodbye, Stones, Kinks, Pixies, Public Image, Public Enemy, Ice, Ice and Ice?) “In fact,” he said, “any song that even mentions Satan is evil.” (Goodbye, “Devil Woman”; goodbye, “Devil with the Blue Dress”; goodbye, “Devil Went Down to Geo...”?)
Hey, wait a minute.
“What's makes ‘Devil went Down to Georgia'” an evil song?” I asked. “In that song Satan loses the fiddle competition to Johnny and walks off humiliated.”
“It's evil because Satan is defeated without explicit help from God,” he answered.
I realized right then that Paul had lost his mind. Naturally, I tried to reason with him, tried to stop him from burning his albums. But he was determined. One night, deep in the woods behind his house, Paul built himself a raging black pyre, and if I knew then what I know now, I would've told him he was just trading one religion for another.
When Paul sacrificed his collection, he was procuring an eternal afterlife in an invisible floating happy la-la land. I should be so lucky. I'm not getting squat for losing mine. So why am I getting rid of my albums?
I guess it's just part of my longstanding war against clutter. This has been a labor in my life, to let go of things that need letting go, to resist the urge to collect. And the reality is, I don't listen to those records anymore. Compact discs are just too convenient. Having to get up and turn your album over after every five songs gets real old real quick, especially when you have a five-disc CD player sitting right next to it. Furthermore, records collections are so cumbersome-you have to hire a clan of Tibetan Sherpas every time you try to move it. Let's face it: vinyl is a pain in the ass. And reminiscing about your record collection is like reminiscing about those gorgeous snowy winters back in New York, always forgetting how much you fucking hated snow.
Hanging onto your vinyl collection is sorta like that guy with the pony-tail/mullet combo he refuses to cut off because-in his mind only-he is hanging on to his last bit of youthful cool.
For these reasons, I must say goodbye. Goodbye, beloved sacred record collection. Goodbye, rare Flying Lizards Japanese import. Goodbye, laser-etched Split Enz disc. Goodbye, In Through The Out Door paper-sack album-cover cover. Goodbye, Bad Reputation-only a born-again, record-burning dickhead wouldn't know how fuckin' hard this album rocks.
Goodbye, Warhol banana album and zipper album and phallic album covers everywhere.
Goodbye, stand-up-comedy albums by George Carlin, Steve Martin and Glen Danzig-oh, how we laughed.
Goodbye, autographed copies of Squeezing out Sparks, Nina Hagen, All the Young Dudes, Three of a Perfect Pair and Broken English.
Goodbye, White Album-your cover so sugary white like a coconut-confected pastry over an oh-so musically creamy filling. Goodbye I, Robot-turns out you were right all along: the machines did take over.
Goodbye, Boy, October and War. Goodbye, Outlandos, Zenyatta, Regatta, Mondata, Ricotta. Goodbye, Peter Gabriel, Peter Gabriel and Peter Gabriel. Goodbye, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Drop me a line when you get to Hollywood, Frankie. Sayonara, Kimono My House. I think you should go, Wish You Were Here. So long, Kiss Alive II. So long, Kontroversy, Kronikles and Kinda Kinks-I'm going to miss the spit out of all of you.
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